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July 20, 2006

Defensive line trying to find weight balance

The following is the seventh in a series of position previews.

Steve Spurrier wants to see South Carolina get bigger along the defensive line.

But not too big.

Case in point: Fun-loving Stanley Doughty (6-foot-1, 331 pounds) played most of last season at about 330 pounds.

As far as Spurrier is concerned, that's about 30 to 35 pounds over the maximum limit.

So, he ordered Doughty - a native of Greenburg, La. - to lose the weight over the off-season or spend the 2006 season watching the games from the sidelines.

To help the cause, Spurrier placed Doughty on a special diet to help him lose the weight by the start of fall camp.

"If (Doughty) could get his motor going at (295 to 300 pounds), he could really help us and he could be an outstanding player," Spurrier said. "But at 330 like he was last year, he's always tired and he's not in there much. We're trying to get him in shape and hopefully he'll want to get in shape. If he does, he has a chance to help us and help himself."

The frenzy to force Doughty to lose weight could be well worth the effort because pound-for-pound he may be the most athletic defensive lineman the Gamecocks have. Even playing well above his recommended weight, Doughty tied for the team lead last season with 3.5 sacks.

"Hopefully, Stanley will keep working and eventually get his weight under control and be the player we expect him to be," USC defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said. "He has potential but a lot of guys have potential. Until he must pay the price and do the things we ask him to do, we'll never know."

Doughty's weight problems have cost him a spot on the first-team defense. He's been replaced - at least temporarily - by sophomore Nathan Pepper of Greenville, who is undersized at 6-foot-1, 278 pounds to be a nose tackle in the SEC.

But with Doughty battling weight issues, the coaching staff has few options except to keep pushing Doughty to drop weight.

Pepper appeared in nine games as a true freshman in 2005 but was not credited with a tackle. He did make an impression, though, in spring practice with his skills.

"Nathan Pepper played better (than Doughty) and did the things we asked him to do," Nix said in explaining the decision to promote Pepper over Doughty. "He had a very good spring. He's smart. He has a motor and plays full speed every play."

Spurrier likes the potential of incoming freshman Kenrick Ellis (6-5, 325) from Greenacres, Fla., mainly because he has the physical size of a typical SEC nose tackle.

Ellis was ranked as the No. 12 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and the No. 23 overall prospect in Florida by Rivals.com.

You can count on Ellis seeing significant action this season.

"If he's one of the best, we're going to get him on the field," Nix said.

If you're searching for a safe selection for breakout player of the year, you could do a lot worse than junior defensive tackle Marque Hall (6-3, 291), who has caught Spurrier's eye with his work this summer.

"Marque had an excellent spring and he's doing super in the summer workouts," Spurrier said.

Hall has been rewarded for his excellent summer with top billing at one of the defensive tackle spots.

Hall - whom some considered the top defensive line prospect in North Carolina when he signed with the Gamecocks - was one of the crown jewels of USC's 2004 class. But his performances have been sporadic in his first two seasons. He was part of USC's three-man rotation at defensive tackle last season and finished with 14 tackles.

Listed behind Hall on the depth chart is redshirt sophomore Matt Raysor (6-3, 313), who, like Doughty, has battled weight control issues since he matriculated at USC.

Raysor - South Carolina's Defensive MVP in the 2003 Shrine Bowl - has yet to fulfill his potential. He showed progress in the spring after being credited with one tackle in 10 games during his first season in the SEC.

Joel Reaves (6-1, 262) arrived on campus in January as a junior college transfer from Georgia Military College. Although he didn't earn a starting job like former GMC teammate Jasper Brinkley, he managed to impress the coaches with his toughness.

Currently listed as a third-team defensive tackle, Reaves will battle Raysor for the backup job when fall camp opens. He must add some weight, though, as his 262-pound frame will not hold up over the long run under the pounding the SEC wars offer.

While listed as a 257-pound defensive end on the recently released depth chart, redshirt freshman Lemuel Jeanpierre is actually closer to 280 pounds and will begin August practice inside at tackle. He played both positions in the spring. Jeanpierre has excellent technique and is very coachable.

Junior defensive end Jordin Lindsey (6-3, 248) moved into the starting lineup at the "Bandit" position in the fourth week of the season and held the spot for the remainder of the season, finishing with 29 tackles and three sacks.

Lindsey has a motor that never stops running and quickly developed into one of USC's best pass rushers. Spurrier has frequently discussed his disappointment regarding the effort of some of the USC defensive players late last season. You can be assured he wasn't talking about Lindsey.

True freshmen Eric Norwood (6-2, 256) and Terrence Campbell (6-3, 245) will battle for the backup spot behind Lindsey.

Norwood - who along with Campbell hails from the Atlanta area - wasn't shy saying he wanted to get on the field as a first-year player.

"I'm not planning on redshirting," Norwood said. "I'm going to play. Whether or not I start, that's up to me and how well I catch up with the system and the other players. I'm going to push myself to try to get that starting spot. I don't want to sit out. I wouldn't have come here if I was going to redshirt. I think I can help."

The starting defensive end opposite Lindsey entering fall camp is junior Ryan Brown (6-0, 247), a converted linebacker who made 20 tackles in 12 games last season.

After watching him for a season, the USC coaches determined that Brown - one of the top prep linebackers in the nation when he signed with USC in 2003 - simply lacked the pure foot speed to play the position in the SEC.

As a result, they shifted Brown to defensive end prior to spring practice and the move appears to have worked. He was promoted to first-team shortly after the spring game and has remained there throughout the summer.

"Ryan did what we asked him to do," Nix said. "Ryan showed up rushing the passer at times and did some things in coverage. He performed better than the guy in front of him. He could potentially get even better. Right now he's the best we've got."

Junior college transfer Casper Brinkley (6-3, 250) finally joins his twin brother Jasper at USC after completing his academic work at GMC. He is currently listed as the second-team defensive end behind Brown.

Don't be surprised if Casper Brinkley snatches the position from Brown before the end of the season and joins his sibling in the starting eleven on defense.

"I think I've got a good motor," Casper Brinkley said. "I never give up, no matter what. If we're down or whatever, I just keep going and hope for the best."

Redshirt freshman Kerry Bonds (6-2, 215) could be in danger of getting lost in the shuffle at defensive end unless he comes out of the gate fast and plays well right away.

The USC coaches are still searching for the right position for Bonds - he will also work at linebacker - probably needs to add at least 15 to 20 pounds to his frame before he sees the field.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Jordin Lindsey (DE), Marque Hall (DT), Stanley Doughty (DT), Ryan Brown (DE).

RESERVES: Kerry Bonds, Casper Brinkley, Terrence Campbell, Kenrick Ellis, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Eric Norwood, Nathan Pepper, Matt Raysor, Joel Reaves,

PROJECTED REDSHIRTS: None.

WALK-ONS: James Green, Keron Rouse.

Other in-depth position previews:

Cook(ing) up something tasty at tight end
Three new starters means fresh start for linebackers
Rice looking to top spectacular freshman season
White will anchor inexperienced offensive line
Gamecock backfield primed for success
Pressure's on Bennett to lead youthful secondary
Battle to become Mitchell's backup will be fierce

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